the benefits of swaddling
swaddling is one of the most gentle, effective and beneficial practices for parents and their children
While we now have the scientific evidence to prove it, swaddling’s ability to soothe and calm babies has been known around the world for centuries. The oldest archaeological evidence of mothers swaddling their babies begins in 4000 B.C. with the migrating peoples of ancient central Asia. The ancient Greeks and Romans swaddled. There are even biblical references to the practice, and while swaddling blankets have been used consistently in the East for thousands of years, their popularity in the West didn’t take off until recent decades.
swaddling mimics soothing touch
Widely known as a trusted method for easing the transition between womb and world, swaddling recreates the secure and cozy feeling of the womb. Less often discussed is the fundamental need for babies to experience touch, and the ability for the soft pressure of a swaddle to mimic that sensation. Some touch therapists say that swaddling can help develop an infant’s tactile system so they become comfortable with being touched, which is key to healthy development.
On a neurological level, intimate contact activates and reinforces a self-soothing response that decreases stress by lowering blood pressure, heart rate, and cortisol concentrations. What this means for your baby is longer, more restful sleep with fewer disturbances. Swaddled infants tend to fall asleep more quickly and stay asleep more consistently throughout the night.
More sleep for baby means more rest for parents, and a generally less sleep-deprived household in those first few challenging months.
swaddling moderates the Moro reflex
Do you remember the last time you felt a disturbing plummeting sensation just as you were falling asleep? Babies experience it all the time as a facet of normal neurological development. While the presence of the Moro reflex is an indication of a healthy infant, its effects can become distressing if your baby’s sleep is disturbed too often by the involuntary movements that it triggers. Luckily, swaddling babies prevents those spontaneous movements from waking them, allowing for a much more peaceful night's sleep.
swaddling alleviates discomfort from colic
Colic is one of the most frustrating challenges parents face in their child’s first few months. Considered a result of bacterial imbalance or incomplete gastro-intestinal development, Colic is accompanied by seemingly inexplicable and inconsolable crying. The colicky baby’s complaint does in fact have a simple explanation: they’re experiencing extreme pain. The light pressure of a swaddle blanket can have a tremendously therapeutic effect on a child suffering from colic, providing much needed relief for parents and baby alike.
swaddling keeps your baby warm - but not too warm
A number of false claims about “double swaddling” have been circulating within parenting circles, promoting the practice as a benefit to newborns and infants. In fact, double swaddling poses serious danger, increasing the incidents of overheating and SIDS.
While double swaddling is an absolute no-no, appropriately using a single, high-quality swaddle helps to maintain the optimal temperature for a baby’s body. Newborns, still adjusting to life outside the womb, are unable to regulate their body temperature on their own. Breathable, moisture-wicking muslin swaddles keep your baby all warm and toasty without the danger of overheating.
swaddling reduces incidents of SIDS and other accidents
Loose blankets in your baby’s crib pose a serious threat to their well-being, increasing chances of nighttime suffocation. With their arms constrained, babies are prevented from pulling bedding and clothing over their faces (though you should aim to keep loose bedding out of the crib entirely). When properly swaddled, babies have everything they need to stay warm without the danger of suffocation hazards.
The American Association of Pediatrics further extols the safety benefits of swaddling, noting that swaddles help to maintain the supine position during sleep. Conventional wisdom says that, in the interest of preventing SIDS, babies should always sleep on their backs, and never on their stomach or side. For a swaddled baby incapable of rolling over, the risk of SIDS diminishes. A swaddled baby is a safer baby.
swaddling increases your baby’s quality of life
It is said to be familiar to babies, as it recreates the secure and cozy feeling of the womb. It has also been said that swaddling babies prevents spontaneous movements called the moro or startle reflex from waking them*—which allows for a much more peaceful night's sleep.
In his wildly popular baby care book, The Happiest Baby on the Block (2003), famed American pediatrician Dr. Harvey Karp touts the magical qualities of swaddling, among them swaddling’s ability to soothe crying babies and lull them to sleep. He explains that swaddling triggers a “relaxation” mechanism in infants that helps soothe them. We’ve touched on this subject many times already, but it bears repeating: swaddling your baby can provide them with an added sense of nurturance that develops their feelings of safety and trust in the world.
Born and raised in Australia, aden + anais co-founder Raegan Moya-Jones grew up with her native land’s time-honored practice of swaddling babies in cotton muslin blankets. For countless generations, Aussie parents have comforted and secured their children in this supremely soft, breathable fabric. In 2006, Raegan introduced the first muslin swaddle blanket to the United States, and aden + anais’ award-winning original swaddle continues to set the standard worldwide